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The Assam government has proposed extending its two-child policy for availing benefits under specific schemes funded by the state. This comes after the state government barred those with more than two children from government jobs and contesting local elections.
At a press conference on Saturday, June 19, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the state government would slowly implement population norms for government schemes. Although the norms cannot be implemented in some schemes, like availing free admission in schools and colleges or for houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, he told.
"But, in the case of some schemes, say if a scheme like a Chief Minister Awas Yojana is launched in the future for the middle-class, then the two-child norm will be enforced. Similarly, population norms will gradually be put in place in the case of some chosen schemes," he said, as per The Indian Express. He also added that government schemes, including loan waivers, will not apply to tea garden workers and the SC-ST community. Population control will be taken into account while providing benefits to them.
On June 10, Sarma, who assumed office last month, had spoken about the evictions in three districts and urged the minority community to adopt a better family planning policy to control the population and reduce poverty.
Earlier this month, Sarma also faced backlash when he blamed the immigrant Muslim community for having large families. He received sharp criticism from various quarters for his comments. Data, however, proved otherwise. Muslims in Assam have recorded the most dramatic decline in fertility since National Family Health Survey-3, which was conducted 14 years earlier.
Sarma had also talked about the importance of educating girls to control the population and reduce poverty. "I appeal to them to work together with us. We are there for all of you, to support women's education and reduce poverty. But poverty will never be reduced unless you control your population," he had said.
Currently, a population policy is already in place in Assam. Following up a resolution passed by the Assembly in 2017 on the Population and Women Empowerment Policy of Assam, the previous BJP government had decided in 2019 that people with more than two children would not be eligible for government jobs from January 2021.
The policy has two rules for government employees. One, to apply for a government job, a candidate must have two children or less. Second, government employees must strictly follow the two-children policy to be a role model of society. Also, the candidates who contest in the panchayat elections cannot have more than two children, according to the Assam Panchayat (Amendment) Act, 2018.
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